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We knew President Obama would address the horrific school rampage in Newtown in his State of the Union address. We just didn't know how he would do it. He did it with emotion and with a simple refrain. He said the families of those 20 little boys and girls and six heroic teachers and adminstrators "deserve a vote."
"The families of Newtown deserve a vote," the president said, calling on Congress to vote on gun control legislation, including provisions mandating more stringent background checks for gun sales and preventing people from buying guns and selling them to criminals. "They deserve a vote," Mr. Obama went on, referring to the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, the honor student who has become a symbol of Chicago's escalating gun violence after she was gunned down near her school just days after performing at the Inauguration. As the president talked about a girl who loved "Fig Newtons and lip gloss," we saw her parents, Nate and Cleo, sitting alongside First Lady Michelle Obama in the first lady's box inside the U.S. Capitol.
"They deserve a vote, they deserve a vote," the president said, referring to Hadiya's mom and dad. "Gabby Giffords (who was inside the Capitol listening to the president's speech) deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence -- they deserve a simple vote," Mr. Obama said, as he was interrupted by applause throughout from Democrats and from some Republicans.
The question is will the political pressure be strong enough to get those Republicans who stood up and supported the president's call for a "simple vote" to back some new gun control legislation.
"Now if you want to vote no, that's your choice," said the president. "But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun -- more than a thousand."
Hadiya was one of the more than a thousand. "She was so good to her friends they all thought they were her best friends," the president said, noting how she died just about a mile from his Chicago home and probably thinking about how his daughter, Malia, is just one year younger than Hadiya.
"Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country," said Mr. Obama. "In fact, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I've outlined... But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can."
Your Turn to Ask the Questions
What did you think of the president's call for new gun control measures in his State of the Union address? What do you think are the chances that anything will get done in Congress? What do you think is the best way to deal with gun violence?
We know you have strong feelings about these issues, and many questions. Now it's your turn to get those questions answered. iVillage will be moderating a special "Open Questions" live town hall with Vice President Biden's chief of staff, Bruce Reed, on gun control this Friday, from 3p ET to 330p ET. As you know, Vice President Biden has been leading the president's task force on gun violence, and so his chief of staff is right on the front lines of this debate.
And be sure to join us live Friday/3p ET to 330p ET to see if your questions are asked and answered. You can check out the live townhall on iVillage and also on whitehouse.gov/SOTU.
See you Friday!